Many prostate cancers are slow growing and have a low chance of spreading and causing harm over a patient’s lifetime. In these instances, your doctor may suggest active surveillance or watchful waiting as a possible option. Active surveillance is a management option where your doctor closely monitors your cancer using prostate-specific antigen (PSA) tests, digital rectal exams, ultrasound and biopsies. If a change indicates your cancer is becoming more aggressive, your doctor will talk with you about treatment options.
Watchful waiting involves less testing than active surveillance. You and your doctor monitor any changes in your symptoms to determine if you would benefit from treatment.
Chemotherapy is one of the longest used and most common treatments for cancer. It is sometimes used if prostate cancer has spread outside of the prostate gland.
In most cases, chemotherapy works by interfering with the cancer cell's ability to grow and reproduce. For some types of cancer, chemotherapy may be used alone or in combination with other treatments such as radiation or surgery.
While chemotherapy can be quite effective in treating certain cancers, the medicines reach all parts of the body, not just the cancer cells. There can be many side effects during treatment, and being prepared for these side effects can help you and your caregivers manage them effectively.
Radiation treatment may be administered by placing small radioactive seeds within the prostate that kill cancer cells (brachytherapy) or may be administered by directing radiation energy from an outside source at the prostate (external beam radiation therapy). This treatment may also be used in combination with other treatments in more advanced cases and may be used in patients who have recurrence of cancer following surgery.
Radiation is most often used along with other prostate cancer treatments, like surgery or chemotherapy. Your doctor may advise radiation to:
- Serve as the main treatment, sometimes along with hormone therapy
- Kill any remaining small areas of cancer following a surgery
- Treat a single area of cancer spread, such as a bone lesion
- Relieve symptoms such as pain caused by a spread of cancer Learn more about our services by visiting our Radiation Oncology website.
One common treatment that may be an option for prostate cancer is surgery. The main type of surgery for prostate cancer is radical prostatectomy.
- Robotic-assisted laparoscopic prostatectomy. This procedure is the most common approach to radical prostatectomy. This operation involves removing the prostate and often involves removing pelvic lymph nodes as well. Robotic surgery utilizes several small incisions and is associated with decreased blood loss, less post-operative pain and a shorter hospitalization. When considering whether surgery is an option for each patient, the surgeon and patient will examine several factors, including overall health, type and stage of the cancer, as well as each patient’s unique goals and expectations.
- Radical retropubic prostatectomy. During this surgery to remove the prostate, an incision is made below the belly button through which surgery is performed to remove the prostate. Depending upon the characteristics of each patient, this may be an option as well.
Radiopharmaceuticals deliver radiation therapy directly to cancer cells while decreasing the radiation exposure to healthy cells. Doctors use radiopharmaceuticals to treat people who may not have responded well to other cancer treatments. These drugs are specially designed to find and latch onto cancer cells. The radioactive medicine then damages the DNA of the cancer cells and kills them.
Learn more about Radiopharmaceutical Treatments.